I’ve been to Sunday River a couple of times, but only for daytrips, so I’m excited to stay up at the resort for a full weekend. My husband Sam and I have loaded up our car with ski gear, and we drive away from the coast and into the mountains, watching the landscape change. I can’t wait for the weekend to unfold, but mostly, I can’t wait to hit the slopes.
6:50 p.m. @ Sunday River Brewing Company
We pull off of Route 2 and onto the Sunday River Road, where this brewpub sits, like a special welcome to the mountain. Rather than drive past, we decide to grab dinner. We find a spot next to the stone-faced fireplace, and I celebrate the start of the weekend with a Ski Town Brown while Sam tries the Mountain Momma IPA. For dinner, I order a lobster roll, but forget to ask the server how it’s prepared. When it comes, I happily discover it’s exactly the way I like it: no mayo, butter, and a hot dog bun grilled to a toasty crispness. Skiing and lobster are two of my favorite things, and the fact that here in Maine—in a state where the sea meets mountains—I can combine both of them into a single weekend is perfection.
9:00 p.m. @ Grand Summit Hotel at Sunday River Ski Resort
We pull up to the hotel’s portico and unload the gear. The lobby is decorated with a mountain- modern aesthetic: weathered wood planks cover a wall, vintage skis are hung in a starburst pattern, and a dozen pendant lights sparkle above. We drop our gear off at the ski check and head to our comfortable suite—I’m so glad our room has plenty of space to spread out, especially when we’re managing boots, bags, gloves, coats, and more—to call it a night.
8:00 a.m. @ Camp
The hotel’s in-house restaurant features an extensive breakfast, complete with a crepe station. We add Ducktrap smoked salmon to our eggs and help ourselves to speckled enamelware mugs of coffee. Like the lobby, the restaurant is designed with a modern rustic cabin feel, and we fuel up while admiring the birch log walls, colorful lanterns, and Buffalo plaid upholstery.
9:00 a.m. @ Grand Summit Hotel
We pick up our skis at the ski check—something I could definitely get used to—and walk right out to the lifts. Kindly holding the door for us is Don Ballute, a Hollis resident who’s a volunteer for Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation. He tells us that this weekend is the organization’s thirtieth annual Ski-A-Thon. I later find out the event raised $312,000, which goes towards keeping the programs—they provide year-round outdoor activities for athletes with physical disabilities—free of cost.
9:15 a.m. on White Cap Quad
We head up on the chair and make a plan to slowly work our way across the resort’s eight peaks. We decide toendupatOz,anarea that offers up ungroomed terrain. In between, we find open glades, a just- right-sized terrain park (i.e. a beginner’s) with low, wide rails that are slightly less intimidating, and a powder stash in the woods that makes me grateful for Sunday River’s boundary- to-boundary policy.
2:00 p.m. @ The Foggy Goggle
It’s one of the warmest, sunniest days of the season so far, and we’ve managed to ski right through lunch. By 2 p.m. we’re starving and head into the Foggy Goggle for some much-needed sustenance. The hostess walks us right over to a sunny window booth. My trio of fish tacos comes on a cool zig-zag tray, and paired with a margarita that Sam and I split, the tacos hit the spot—just right for a spring-like day.
4:00 p.m. @ Grand Summit Hotel
After skiing back to the hotel, we relax in our room and primp for a fancy night out. The hotel’s front desk quickly arranges for a shuttle to pick us up, and we ride over to the other base lodge.
6:30 p.m. @ Welcome Center in South Ridge and Chondola
We check in for our Peak Dinner and board the Chondola. There’s still a little bit of daylight, and we watch the base disappear behind us and night skiers descend below us. When we exit the gondola, large, pretty snowflakes slowly swirl to the ground. Peak Lodge is off to our right, sparkling with candles like a winter mirage in the mountain sky.
7:00 p.m. @ Peak Lodge
Tonight’s wine dinner highlights Maine Maple Sunday and pairs dishes with Spanish wines. Effervescent champagne flutes glitter with light cast from a fire that is roaring in the woodstove. Our server takes us through each dish, and the sommelier explains each wine. We work our way through the five-course dinner, going from cream of apple and maple soup to maple-glazed Chilean sea bass. After dessert, we head outside again, running across the trail that’s lit up dramatically, and then ride the dark, quiet gondola down. It’s hushed and ethereal up mid-mountain at night when the lifts are still. When the base lodge comes into view through the evening’s snow, part of me wants to just go around again and again.
8:35 a.m. @ Camp
We hit Camp again for a delicious breakfast—this time I can’t resist the crepes.
9:15 a.m. @ Grand Summit Hotel
Sore from our day on the slopes, we decide to take advantage of the heated outdoor pool. We take a quick, soothing dip, then head into Bethel for a little shopping and exploring.
10:45 a.m. @ Smokin’ Good BBQ and The Good Food Store
Pulling into this place along Route 2, I’m not sure what to expect. An orange food truck is plastered with stickers and graffiti-style writing. We’ve stumbled across a roadside barbecue joint—something perhaps more expected in Mississippi than Maine. Inside the neighboring market, there’s a general store with jars of tea that line a wall, farm-fresh veggies, and a nice selection of wine. We grab bottles of water for the car and learn that Heather Hale-Nivus and Dave Nivus own both businesses. When we leave, we watch smoke plumes rise from the meat smoker into the crisp air, and Sam bemoans the fact that it’s not open for at least another hour.
11:10 a.m. @ S. Timberlake
On the way into Bethel, we pull over at a farmhouse to check out Ross Timberlake’s workshop. His company has been hand-building Shaker reproductions and custom furniture for 40 years. Inside his workshop, the winter light is soft and hazy, and the space is scented by woodshavings. Timberlake shows us a custom credenza he’s building. He explains how the legs are specified to the exact height to lift the base back and over the baseboard in the customer’s house, so that the credenza’s surface will be flush against the wall without any gapping. He also designed it with optional drawers, as the customer may use the piece as a bookshelf in the future. I’m impressed with the smart, clever design and how he’s creating flexible pieces designed for longevity.
12:30 p.m. @ Nabos
As soon as we pull up to this shop, something seems different. Its facade features a pair of industrial garage doors that are painted with blocks of bright orange, green, and blue—it turns out that it used to be an automotive repair shop! Now it’s chock- a-block with fun gifts, toys, home decor, and more, the aisles brimming with owner Amanda Smith’s fun finds. I pick up an Islandport Press children’s book for an upcoming birthday party.
12:50 p.m. @ Pok Sun Emporium
We pop into this store filled with pottery, furniture, clothing, jewelry, and more, much of it Maine-made. I linger over some locally made food items, while Sam looks at some kitchen tools.
1:10 p.m. @ DiCocoa’s Market
We’re ready for lunch, and we head across the street to this cute cafe. We split stuffed grape leaves and a sandwich, then order affogato. We watch delighted as our server pours a shot of espresso over a scoop of gelato. Served in a little cup with wooden spoon, it reminds me of a caffeinated, grown-up version of a Hoodsie Cup—a perfect, portable little treat for the car ride home of two tired but very happy skiers.